The Siksika First Nation is exploring the possibility of becoming the first medical marijuana producer on indigenous land in Canada.
Siksika Nation Chief and Council, led by Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman, approved the submission of an application for a mandatory licence to produce pharmaceutical grade medical marijuana on Siksika Nation land.
The application was filed in July, 2016 through Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) by a fifty-fifty per cent joint venture between Siksika Resource Development Ltd. (SRDL) and LDI Group, named Siksika Herbz Ltd.
“It’s certainly on a lot of First Nations’ radar screens in Canada, in the U.S… in North America, quite frankly,” Tom Many Heads, the CEO for Siksika Resource Developments, said.
Siksika Herbz Ltd. has committed to fund the $8.2-million, 25,000-square-foot facility located within the designated Siksika Industrial Park.
Siksika stated they would invest $6 million into the engineer design and construction of the building. The LDI Group said it has secured the proceeds to file the application and committed to the operation management.
Siksika council and its partners expect the new facility would deliver upwards of $14 million in annual revenue.
“It’s not just about generating income for ourselves, it’s about providing the community with a real sense of ownership, being a real industry player in a real burgeoning opportunity area of industry growth,” Many Heads said.
“We’re talking about potentially changing peoples lives for the better for a lot of our younger people, who are looking for opportunities closer to home.”
Dr. Lyle Oberg, chairmen of Siksika Herbz Ltd., said he’s “very pleased and excited to play a role in Siksika’s entrance into this burgeoning sector of the economy.”
“I think there will be between 50 and 75 jobs in the first phase. It has the ability of bringing economic development onto reserve,” Dr. Oberg said. “You’re talking millions of dollars per year in net profit, which will all go to bettering the lives of the Siksika First Nation… it will have a side benefit of being something that can be used on First Nations across the country.”
According to Health Canada, there’s a total of 36 authorized licensed producers of medical marijuana across the country.
There is currently only one licensed medicinal marijuana producer in Alberta but Siksika said it would be taking the lead for First Nation communities in the province.
“We know of no others that actually have a facility on reserve. We know of no others that are contemplating a facility on reserve. Some of the First Nations do invest in medical marijuana businesses but not on their reserve,” Dr. Oberg said.
“It’s actually a race to the finish to actually be that first First Nation owned entity in Canada, certainly in Alberta,” Many Heads said.
Siksika Nation expects the application process to take 12-18 months and to see a final approval of their initiative during 2017 or 2018.